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L’Herbanyste: An Environmentally Friendly Concept House

L’Herbanyste (lur-ban-ist) is a new brunching, sipping and pampering eco-experience in Saigon.  It is a brand new ‘urban jungle’ that helps you ‘escape, replenish and be more sustainable.’

Found in a beautiful, bohemian inspired Villa, tucked down one of Thao Dien’s many hems, L’Herbanyste wants to change the dynamic of how you spend your days.

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Sharing a passion for food and a healthy lifestyle, visiting Bali and experiencing the best in creative vegetarian cuisine, zero waste projects, and customer service, they couldn’t understand why no one in Vietnam was doing the same. Photo provided by L’Herbanyste.

Georgie and Corina met one and a half years ago in a spa in Saigon and since then the pair started to hang out and travel together. Sharing a passion for food and a healthy lifestyle, visiting Bali and experiencing the best in creative vegetarian cuisine, zero waste projects, and customer service, they couldn’t understand why no one in Vietnam was doing the same.

Shortly after, they met Tia. The women’s shared passion for wellness, healthy living, food, and art launched a newfound friendship and business relationship. Together, they founded L’Herbanyste, a new concept house in Ho Chi Minh City. The space includes a Western vegetarian brunch-cafe, offering a creative and plant-based menu, and a retail space celebrating eco-friendly products from local artisans. 

L’Herbanyste is a fusion of the four founders’ (Corina, Georgiana, Tia and Adrien) love and shared passions that is conveyed through the concept, described as “A retreat from the city, a place to relax and revive your soul, mind and social life, L’Herbanyste combines the love for beauty inside-out, plants, food, coffee and community under one sacred roof.”

Their shared passion for wellness, healthy living, food, and art launched a newfound friendship and business relationship. Together, they founded L’Herbanyste, a new sustainable concept house in Ho Chi Minh City. 

At L’Herbanyste’s stunning villa, Vietcetera had a chat with Georgie and Corina about L’Herbanyste’s mission and how it came to be. We were also treated to a tasty Beetroot Crepe with mushrooms and pesto and an unforgettable and aromatic white rum cocktail called Jardin de la Rose.

L’Herbanyste also houses a holistic treatment room, using an exclusive Vietnamese skincare line – Skinlosophy. It also carries a professional photography studio with makeup services and a fully equipped space for personal or business rentals.

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L’Herbanyste is a blending of like-minded, free thinkers. Anyone is welcome to our holistic house. Photo provided by L’Herbanyste.

What were you doing before L’Herbanyste?

Corina: I grew up in Romania, where my family had a restaurant for 15 years and I used to help them (being even in the kitchen) since I was 12. My past eight years I spent between France, Singapore and Vietnam, working in tech & advertising. I am currently living in Saigon for almost three years and working as a Country Manager of a leading mobile advertising platform in SEA and India.

Georgie: I moved to Vietnam four years ago and was previously in charge of PR & Advertising for a law firm in Bucharest, Romania. Vietnam was never in the cards for me. It was so unexpected; I decided to come here for a few months to disconnect from work. Shortly after, I decided to stay longer as I had met many like-minded friends.

It [was 2016 when] my friends and I started the first vegetarian healthy food subscription service in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC). At the time, it was impossible to find healthy, affordable meals without processed sugar. I decided to cook for myself and soon started to deliver to people who experienced the same struggles.

We decided to stop shortly after my friends left the country. So, at that time, I changed my focus to the launching of Chicks Club. It is a women-focused community connecting women and empowering each other through yoga, meditation, and adventure retreats hosted in Vietnam. However, my passion for healthy vegetarian food never stopped and continued to fuel the eventual opening of L’Herbanyste.

We decided to stop shortly after my friends left the country. So, at that time, I changed my focus to the launching of Chicks Club. It is a women-focused community connecting women and empowering each other through yoga, meditation, and adventure retreats hosted in Vietnam. However, my passion for healthy vegetarian food never stopped and continued to fuel the eventual opening of L’Herbanyste.

Tia: I spent my childhood between Sweden, Denmark, and London where I also did my studies. I have always been influenced by European quality and standards within the ‘luxury brands’ industry. When I moved back to Vietnam eight years ago, I found myself working in PR and Marketing for luxury brands and hospitality. This included events management and photography, and I found myself repeatedly being on set for shoots– which I love.

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“Being into Eastern Medicine and natural remedies in the form of food and herbs — Skinlosophy was a brand I could get my teeth into.” Photo provided by L’Herbanyste.

I have always been into health and fitness, but I’ve loved food since forever. Working for a photo studio in Thao Dien, I was fueling my passion for art–but didn’t know how to fuse that with my love of food and wellness. Then, I met the team at Skinlosophy through my brother, and my vision became a little clearer. Being into Eastern Medicine and natural remedies in the form of food and herbs — Skinlosophy was a brand I could get my teeth into. I started to think, how could I integrate this into a business?

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Over one dinner with Georgiana and Corina, it all became clear. Alongside the sustainable business model and my background in Eastern Medicine and cosmetics, Skinlosophy became the perfect fit for our ‘Sustainable House’ also known as ‘L’Herbanyste.

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A retreat from the city, a place to relax and revive your soul, mind and social life, L’Herbanyste combines the love for beauty inside-out, plants, food, coffee and community under one sacred roof. (Corina, left, and Georgina, right)

Who is your target market?

L’Herbanyste is a blending of like-minded, free thinkers. Anyone is welcome to our holistic house. We have created a homely, bright, and welcoming space. You can fill your stomachs, replenish your soul, and contribute to building a more sustainable lifestyle for your families and the community. 

What brings you to the food and beverage community in Vietnam?

We want to connect people and communities in Vietnam through flavor-rich, plant-based foods and lasting experiences. To achieve those goals, we will partner with our guests and team members. We will also partner with business and community leaders who model our values to advocate for a healthy lifestyle and a more sustainable planet.

What items on the menu are your personal favorites? Your best sellers?

It’s very hard to pick out only a few items because all of our dishes were carefully selected. We wanted to have a variety of choices for everyone. Those would include vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free dishes to amazing guilt-free desserts, original cocktails and healthy kombucha drinks.

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The Eau de Provence cocktail.

To experience L’Herbanyste best, we recommend that you take a bunch of friends and book our popular cabana by the swimming pool. When you finish brunching, you can have some cocktails by the pool. Definitely order [and share] with your friends our Quinoa Ayurvedic Buddha Bowls with falafel, the Cauliflower Chickpea Burger, Deconstructed Benedict with Truffles, and our Vegan Tofu Benedict with crunchy asparagus. Also make sure to ask our waiter to pair it with a handcrafted cocktail or our refreshing vegan wine.

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Fresh, healthy, conscious, and colorful plant-based food that satisfies every taste bud and nourishes the body from inside-out. Pictured is the Yellow Mellow smoothie bowl.

What’s the unique selling point and edge that you hope to be remembered for?

With L’Herbanyste, we want to create a new brunching, sipping, and pampering eco-experience in Saigon. We want it to be reminiscent of an ‘urban jungle’ that helps you ‘escape, replenish, and be more sustainable. Found in a beautiful, bohemian inspired villa, tucked down one of Thao Dien’s many  hẻms [alleys], L’Herbanyste is going to change the dynamic of how you spend your days.

With the restaurant, we hope to be remembered for the love and passion we infuse our food with. We cook for and look after our guests as if they’re part of our ever-growing family.

We are intensively prepping in our kitchen, from sunrise to sunset. Fresh, healthy, and conscious plant-based food that satisfies every taste bud and nourishes the body from inside-out is created daily.

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The Beetroot Crepe with mushrooms and pesto.

Our seasonal, local produce is often picked days before being served, and we use natural sweeteners and minimal oils to ensure freshness and quality. 

We envisioned L’Herbanyste kindling a unique, warm experience, like you’re invited for breakfast, brunch, or dinner at your friend’s; you step into their cozy living room and let them take care of the rest, while you enjoy freshly and lovingly homemade food.

How do you envision the future for vegetarian cuisine in Vietnam?

We definitely see an increasing trend in particular in Saigon, but more than being a trend, healthy food is a lifestyle for many expats and locals alike. We think people are becoming more and more conscious of what they eat and how this can impact their body, soul, and also our planet. It is so easy to be a vegetarian or vegan in Vietnam as there are plenty of plant-based options for Vietnamese food and we also see that more and more Western restaurants have started to expand their menus to cater to the increasing demand on the market. 

The city is moving incredibly fast and alternative dietary requirements are one of the things that are improving at a consistent pace. Also, there is an urban trend to be sustainable and environmentally friendly. We are assured that vegetarianism and veganism will be even more prevalent in the years to come. We definitely envisage a bright future for the vegetarian cuisine in Vietnam.

What are some advantages and difficulties that come with a big leadership team?

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We also come from very different backgrounds. Photo provided by L’Herbanyste.

We definitely have a mixed team with four different characters and personalities, so each of us can bring something different on the table. This is an advantage but can also be a difficulty as we all have strong characters and sometimes different point of views.

We also come from very different backgrounds. That’s great as we have such a fresh approach when it comes to innovating and growing our concept, and we have weekly follow-up meetings where we can openly discuss the next steps for L’Herbanyste. 

We’re always in awe of the synergy and empathy we share. No matter what happens, we listen, stand for, and understand each other. That is incredibly important when you’re just starting any business, especially with friends.

If you could give some advice to female entrepreneurs out there who want to start their own business, what would it be?

Just do it. Honestly, take the plunge and learn how to swim in the process. There are so many powerful, creative, and super smart women out there who don’t believe enough in themselves or they’re overthinking too much instead of taking a leap of faith. Of course, we’re not advising on starting completely irrational businesses. If there’s something that you’re really passionate about, keeps you awake at night, our truly believe in, it’s worth trying! Start small but start somewhere and don’t wait too long […] the more you wait, the more you’ll find comfort in postponing or more reasons to not do it. You’re wasting your shot to offer the world something meaningful. Lead by example and empower other women out there to be brave and listen to their instinct.

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Consider if what you are doing now will help you grow in your career or as a person. Photo provided by L’Herbanyste.

Corina: I would encourage everyone to do what makes them happy and do everything with passion: either you work for your own business or for someone else. Also, it is important to think long-term; do what really matters to you. Consider if what you are doing now will help you grow in your career or as a person. For me, it is also important to create something with impact, and I always wanted to create a sustainable business. I hope that our business will help educate people on how to live better by helping our environment and also our community.

Written by Ella Dao, Photos by Kimberly Nguyen

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